In the morning, we got up and headed south to Bryce Canyon. It was a long desolate trip down to Bryce, but when we got to the inevitable “right outside a national park tourist town”, there were plenty of people and a shuttle bus to go into the park. I love public transportation when it works well, and I knew the National Park Service had it handled. We went to the packed visitor's center and got junior ranger books and went down to Sunset Point.
Bryce Canyon is bizarre, but it is simply geologically bizarre. We took a trail down into the canyon, but on the way down, thunder clouds emerged from behind us and we saw lightning. I really want to make it home from this trip, and I know the Southwest is not like the Midwest in how its storms move, so we did not linger at the bottom. And we hoofed it back up the side of the canyon, which was hardest on Bixby and myself.
Brooklyn hated Bryce Canyon: 1. too many people. 2. no human history. 3. canyons activate fear of heights.
We took the bus to their general store. Spread out the snacks we'd brought and found a bright spot of cell coverage. Kids worked on the junior ranger books (the hardest set of junior ranger books since Yosemite, I would wager). Realized that Brooklyn's carbon footprint makes her more akin to a German or Dutch citizen than an American. A long discussion followed about urban living actually being quite green.
After that, we attended the best ranger program since the one at Yellowstone that ended with a version of the serenity prayer and telling us that we might all die in a mega caldera, or we might die some other way, but we should definitely hold onto those we love in the meantime.
But this one was about rocks. And “Geologist Joel” is wasted as a geologist. He should preach or teach. I guess he does—about rocks. It was an awesome talk that involved him moving around and reenacting geologic movement and ending with a story about learning to take his time that frankly left me misty-eyed. It was that good.
We got the kids sworn in as junior rangers and took the bus back to the truck. I could tell looking at kids' faces that they were done for the day, so we headed out. We got to a crossroads...google was telling me to go straight, but the sign was telling me to turn right. I glanced at the map. It would add 20 minutes to the trip to turn right...and we turned right.
It added an hour and a half. We listened to a lot of The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, but most of it I spent in an adrenaline burnout, Bixby driving and me apologizing for impulsively taking this route. It was not my finest moment.
We got home as the rain started, and decided burgers fries and shakes were the best plan. They were. The rain ended, we got back to the campsite, everyone got showers in, and we listened to more of the book until I couldn't stay awake any longer.
But I kept waking up scared and worried. This place, again, is messing with my mind. I won't miss it when I go. I'm glad I came here and saw what I did. But it made me uneasy.